The U.S. Supreme Court Style Manual, viewed by the justices as an internal document for helping law clerks and justices draft opinions in proper form, is going public for the first time, without the court's approval.
Jack Metzler, a court aficionado who published the Solicitor General’s Style Guide in 2013, said Sunday he put up the Supreme Court's manual for sale on an Amazon publishing website, retailing for $29.95.
|A more interesting sort of 'secret book'?|
Most of the guide deals with style, not substance, answering questions like how to use words like supra and ibid in the text or footnotes of opinions, and whether punctuation marks should ever be italicized. (They should not.) The proper use of quotation marks takes up five pages of the manual.***
But one substantive entry seems to resolve a long-simmering debate among court geeks about why the court, when it rejects a lower court ruling, sometimes "reverses" it and other times "vacates" it."In virtually every term," the manual states, "the question arises whether the Court should vacate, as opposed to reverse, particular lower court judgments. The rule of thumb applied by the Office of the Clerk of the Court is easy to state, but may be difficult to apply in particular instances: This Court should reverse if it deems the judgment below to be absolutely wrong, but vacate if the judgment is less than absolutely wrong. Questions in difficult cases should be directed to the Chief Deputy Clerk."